Delaware did not get nearly all of what it wanted last year when it proposed sports betting at its three race tracks.
After much legal back-and-forth, it was ruled that the state could only take parlay bets on the NFL. It was something far less than half-a-loaf. But it was what it got and it did the best it could with it.
Over time, the betting grew. In October, the state's three tracks (Delaware Park, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway) handled $2.2 million in bets. In November, it was $3.5 million. There were 146,916 wagers in October, 263,759 in November.
For the NFL season, net proceeds, before expenses, were more than $3.1 million. That money was divided among the state (50 percent), tracks (40.2 percent) and horse racing purses (9.2 percent).
The second year of NFL parlay betting is under way - with a new bet that the Delaware Lottery, which administers the parlay betting, hopes will increase overall handle.
For a one-time entry fee of $250, players pick six NFL games per week against the spread. Whichever player picks the most winners at the end of the regular season, gets a $50,000 first prize. There will be 4-week "stage" prizes of $5,000 as well. The "Ultimate Pro Football Challenge" is a relatively cheap way of getting action every week - with potentially large payoffs.
"The best way to get the word out about that was to do the whole preseason so people could come in and get the rules and be made aware of it," said Delaware Park's chief financial officer Andrew Gentile. "This way, we won't have people showing up the first week and saying, 'I wish I knew about this.' "
To get into the season-long contest, players have to enter by Sunday at 11 a.m. Even if you go bad in the 17-week contest, you can still be a factor in a "stage." The stages are 4-week periods, except for Weeks 13 to 17 when it is a 5-week stage. A player can put in as many as 10 entries.
"Some people are trying to figure out if there were six picks a week, how many entries they would have to have to play both sides of most games," Gentile said.
It sounds a little like the field in craps. Sounds good until you actually work out the odds.
Just like last year, players must bet at least a three-team parlay. The more teams used, the better the odds (and the harder to win). There will be several different types of parlay cards (Half-point, Teaser, Super Teaser, Delaware Favorites, Monday Night and Early Bird).
Delaware Favorites include games involving the Eagles, Giants, Redskins and Ravens for the current week and the following 2 weeks.
The Monday Night Card has the Monday night game and all the games for the following week.
In late November 2009, $100,000 parlay cards were introduced. For a $5 bet, a player must select 15 NFL games correctly against the spread. A player actually hit the first 14 games one week. Alas, he lost the final game and his $5.
Would this whole enterprise have been much better if Delaware had gotten what it wanted - betting on individual games in every sport? Obviously.
But parlay betting on the NFL is what they got. And that is back with more options than Year 1.